Chapter 9: The easy-to-get-lost Lu Family Mansion

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Third Aunt’s old man sent two sets of narrow little cheongsams1The cheongsam, also known as the qipao, is a type of Chinese form-fitting garment of Manchu origin.
It is a high-necked, closely fitted, and often short-sleeved dress with the skirt portion slit partway up the side. with big white gardenias on a pale blue background that blossomed down to the knee, revealing a white sliver of the calf.
In early spring, Dad gave him money to expand the shop again, and the old man recruited two new embroiderers and two new tailors.
The old man did know how to curry a favor and somehow ended up giving cheongsams to me and my elder sister to wear.
When my parents saw them, they thought they looked good and gave him a gift back, enough to buy dozens of cheongsams.
He really did not do business to lose money.

The entrance to Fatty Lu’s public house was heavily guarded by soldiers, all armed with guns, and ordinary people would shudder to look at it.
When the carriage stopped at the entrance, the soldier at the door shouted gruffly, “What are you doing?”

Before Uncle Zhao could answer, a man came out quickly and slapped him across the face.
“Are you blind? This is the Ye family’s Second Miss, what the hell are you yelling for?” 

After that, he turned his head around and bowed over.
“Second Miss Ye, don’t blame me, my brother doesn’t know what they’re doing⎯⎯”

I only thought he looked familiar and asked, “You are⎯⎯”

“I’m Zhang Shun, the captain of the fourth squad, Miss Yue is well taken care of, don’t worry, Miss Ye.” 

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The flattering face in front of me was so disgusting that I cringed, and I immediately remembered my one-sided encounter with him when I was in the Night Heart Girls.
I smiled and shoved a handful of silver coins into his hand and said, “A reward for your wine money.” Immediately, Zhang Shun thanked me profusely and led me into the Lu family.

The servants said that Fatty Lu was meeting with guests in the back garden and asked me to wait in the front room for a while.
While the maids were making tea, I quietly ran down the stairs to the first floor.
I heard Zhang Shun say that Yue Xiaoman was locked up in a room on the first floor.
It was just that there were too many rooms on the first floor, and each room door was vermilion lacquered with silver inlaid handles.
I put my ear to the doors one by one, and because I leaned in so close, I didn’t even notice that one door was hidden, and my whole body fell in embarrassingly.


I exclaimed as a half-naked man lay before me on the large carved bed.
His eyes were half-squinted, giving off a lazy, evil glow.
I was embarrassed and was about to go out when I suddenly heard shuffling footsteps at the top of the stairs and the sound of a maid on the verge of tears was heard.
”I had only gone to pour a cup of tea and the lady was gone.”

I was so frightened that I hurriedly closed the door, with only one thought in mind – to hide.
To barge into Fatty Lu’s house was already a huge crime, and to be in the same room with a half-naked man was worse.
If word got out, it would make Father lose face.

The footsteps outside the door were even more chaotic, and it seemed that it was not a single person.
I could only stare and gesture to the naked man to put his clothes back on.
But the man took his time putting his pajamas on like he was watching a good show.

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“Xingjiu, open the door⎯⎯” 

The voice of the big fat man from the road sounded outside the door and I was so nervous that my brain went blank.
I saw that the man had come over and leisurely opened the door and said, “I’m not going to do anything to your VIP, I’m just showing this lady around the room, what’s all the fuss about?”

Fatty Lu’s tense face immediately eased up.
“Dear niece, you are not familiar with this place so I was afraid you would get lost…Anyways, this is my son, Lu Xingjiu.”

I didn’t know why Fatty Lu’s son was covering up for me.
Besides, he didn’t look gentle at all.
He looked very dangerous.
I could only play out this tour in silence, pretending to be confused and saying, “Uncle Lu, your mansion is so big, if Brother Xingjiu hadn’t shown me around, I’m afraid I’d get lost.”

That day, I didn’t see Yue Xiaoman at all.

The Lu family’s cook prepared a huge table of expensive dishes, which I ate without much interest, then pretended that I was not feeling well and went back to the Ye family early.
All along the way, I wondered what Lu Xingjiu’s intention was.
He had no reason to help me at all, and he gave me the creeps.

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In the morning, someone from the Lu family sent a post, saying that after the temple fair, they invited the Second Miss to come to the feast at their house.
I was worried about how I was going to handle it, but in the afternoon, someone from the Lu family sent another letter saying that Yue Xiaoman had been released to go home, so I should be able to go to the banquet.
I was shocked, thinking that the infatuated boy had run off to be a substitute.
I hurried to Yue Xiaoman’s house only to find Yue Xiaoman on her knees, with her old-fashioned father beating her on the palms with a bamboo stick.

Mother Yue sat on the side and just cried but couldn’t stop him.
“The child has suffered and knows she’s wrong, father, please forgive her.”

The old curmudgeon was so angry that he even shivered.
“She is the only one in the school who dares to take responsibility for this headache, your father’s old bones are almost broken! You’re an unfilial child!”

When the stick came down again, I intuitively used my hand to block it, but I didn’t know that Old man would really strike down, and my four fingers immediately had red marks.
Yue Xiaoman frowned.
“Bingqing, why are you doing this?”

“Uncle Yue, if you want to hit me, hit me, it’s all because I caused Xiaoman to be imprisoned.” 

If I hadn’t been nosy, Xiaoman wouldn’t have suffered this calamity.
I just felt bad inside, but I couldn’t speak up.
After all, it was not just my life or death that was at stake.
When the old curmudgeon saw that he had hit the wrong person, he was so angry that he threw down his bamboo stick and went into the inner room, and Mother Yue followed him in to calm him down.
I looked her up and down, she hadn’t lost weight and she wasn’t hurt, so it seemed that Fatty Lu had indeed not given her a hard time.

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“How come he gave up and let you back in?”

Yue Xiaoman shook her head and said, “I was wondering too.
I had been locked up in the innermost room on the first floor.
That day, through the window, I saw Teacher Qin and a man named Lu chatting in the back garden.
They looked quite cordial.”

“Qin Shiyue?” I bit my lip.
“Him and Fatty Lu?”

“Maybe it was Teacher Qin who saved me and got me out!” Yue Xiaoman said happily.

“Him?” I snorted coldly, “He’s bad, he’s a traitor.

I immediately shut my mouth.
I could not tell her the truth because whoever knew about this matter would be in danger.
In these days of war and chaos, I didn’t know what else to do for them except to keep it a secret.
I told Yue Xiaoman to go to the temple fair on the weekend with the schoolboy on the road, and to go to the tailor’s store of the father of the third aunt, to cut clothes.
Yue Xiaoman opened her mouth but did not say anything.

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